Distinguished Professor of Art Curates Prestigious Exhibit

Malcolm Baker, distinguished professor of art history, curated an exhibition at the Yale Center for British Art that continues through May 9. The exhibition, “Fame and Friendship: Pope, Roubiliac, and the Portrait Bust in Eighteenth-Century Britain,” features a series of portrait busts of poet Alexander Pope by sculptor Louis-François Roubiliac.

“Pope was a person of great fame in his own lifetime, a national worthy,” Baker said. “Some of the portrait busts were made to disseminate his image far and wide, but others were produced for particular friends,” among them William Murray, a young lawyer whom Pope tutored in oratory skills, who went on to become lord chief justice in 1754.

Portrait busts were the most popular images celebrating famous writers in the 18th century, Baker said. In addition to busts of Pope in terracotta, plaster, bronze and marble, the exhibition includes paintings, prints, drawings and rare books lent from collections in the US and Europe. Bringing eight versions of the same bust together has provided an opportunity for Baker and his colleagues to develop with computer scientists at Yale a research program of digital scanning that will allow scholars to explore the complexities of 18th century sculptural practice and the role of replication in this.

The exhibition will travel this summer to Waddesdon Manor, a country house built in the late 19th century for Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild in Buckinghamshire, England. The house is a National Trust property with a vast collection of art and extensive gardens. Major interdisciplinary conferences are being held at both Yale and Waddesdon.

How Do Cutbacks in Federal Funding Impact Research Programs?

Cuts in federal funding can hurt state and local economies.  Higher education is often impacted with students losing financial aid, tuition costs rising, and research slowing down considerably.

Chancellor’s Professor of Biochemistry Russ Hille was interviewed by Science magazine on the effects of cutbacks in federal funding on research programs across the country.

“The serious reductions in federal funding of basic research that have occurred over the past few years have already begun to take a serious toll in investigator-initiated research at universities and other centers of research across the country,” he said.  “This has compromised our ability to sustain our research programs and in the end will inevitably reduce the nation’s international competitiveness, not just scientifically but economically.”

The interview can be read at www.sciencemag.org/content/344/6179/27.full in the April 4 Science magazine article in which he is interviewed.

Bighorn Sheep Went Extinct on Desert Island in Gulf of California, Study Finds

Benjamin Wilder

Benjamin Wilder

Using ancient DNA analysis and other techniques, a research team led by conservation biologists at UCR determined that bighorn sheep became extinct on Tiburón Island, a large and mostly uninhabited island just off Sonora, Mexico, sometime in the last millennium — specifically between the 6th and 19th centuries.

The result, published March 19 in PLOS ONE, is a surprise because until this discovery, there was no knowledge whether or not bighorn sheep had previously inhabited the island. Conventional wisdom was that bighorn sheep had not occupied Tiburón Island until 1975 when sixteen female and four male bighorn sheep were deliberately introduced.

The research got its start when in the spring of 2012 Benjamin Wilder, Ph.D. graduate student of UCR’s Department of Botany and Plant Sciences and lead author of the study, along with a lab mate and his Seri collaborators, made an incidental discovery of a 1,500-1,600-year-old, urine-cemented dung mat on the floor of a small cave in the Sierra Kunkaak, a rugged mountain range of the eastern side of Tiburón Island.

Don’t Worry, Be Grateful and You Will be Rewarded

Ye Li

Ye Li

In a potentially landmark study forthcoming in the journal Psychological Science, a team of researchers from UCR, Northeastern University, and Harvard Kennedy School demonstrated that feelings of gratitude automatically reduce financial impatience.

Impatience was assessed using a set of decisions pitting desire for instant gratification against waiting for larger, future rewards. For example, participants chose between receiving $54 now or $80 in 30 days. To increase the stakes, participants had the chance to obtain one of the financial rewards they selected. But before making these decisions, participants were randomly assigned to one of three conditions in which they wrote about an event from their past that made them feel (a) grateful, (b) happy, or (c) neutral. The researchers found that people feeling grateful are willing to delay monetary award for a larger amount of money in three months.

Social Networks and Pharmaceutical Drugs

Vagelis Hristidis

Vagelis Hristidis

A team of researchers at UCR’s Bourns College of Engineering and Department of Political Science studied prescription drug posts on social networks in order to help health care providers find the best sources for information.

In their published paper, “Pharmaceutical Drugs Chatter on Online Social Networks,” the findings included: posts to health social networks such as Web MD and drugs.com were about twice as likely to have negative sentiment compared to those in social networks like Twitter; the same group of drugs are popular across all general social networks while different drugs are popular in health social networks; posts about psychotherapeutic agents like Abilify are about five times more common on health social networks, while posts about genitourinary tract agents, such as Viagra, are 16 times more common in social networks.

This discovery is based on an analysis of more than 1 million drug-related posts. The paper, soon to be published in the Journal of Biomedical Informatics, was written by Vagelis Hristidis, associate professor of computer science and engineering; Matthew T. Wiley, UCR graduate student working with Hristidis; Kevin M. Esterling, professor of political science; and Canghong Jin, a former visiting graduate student at UCR.

UCR Scientists Involved in CMS Detector Upgrade at CERN

UCR physicists Robert Clare and Stephen Wimpenny, along with graduate students Jesse Heilman, Elizabeth Kennedy and Amithabh Shrinivas, have been involved in a significant upgrade of the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) detector at CERNs Large Hadron Collider.  The CMS is a large particle-capturing detector.  UCR is a founding member of the CMS experiment.

Over the past two years, 72 large (5ft x 11ft) chambers have been built at CERN and are now installed in the CMS experiment.

Photo 1 shows the final chamber, which was signed by the crew that built it. Circled are the signatures of the three UCR graduate students mentioned above.  The final chamber is now installed in the CMS detector, together with its final cabling.  The UCR crew worked on the construction of the chambers and their installation in the detector.

 The final chamber is now installed in the CMS detector, together with its final cabling.  The UCR crew worked on the construction of the chambers and their installation in the detector.

The final chamber is now installed in the CMS detector, together with its final cabling. The UCR crew worked on the construction of the chambers and their installation in the detector.

Photo 2 shows UCR graduate student Amithabh Shrinivas (along with a colleague from UC Davis) next to one of the chambers during the cabling.

 UCR graduate student Amithabh Shrinivas (along with a colleague from UC Davis) next to one of the chambers during the cabling

UCR graduate student Amithabh Shrinivas (along with a colleague from UC Davis) next to one of the chambers during the cabling

Scientists Generate 3D Structure for the Malaria Parasite Genome

A research team led by a cell biologist at UCR has generated a 3D model of the human malaria parasite genome at three different stages in the parasite’s life cycle — the first time such 3D architecture has been generated during the progression of the life cycle of a parasite.

The parasite that causes malaria in humans is Plasmodium falciparum. The female Anopheles mosquito transmits P. falciparum from an infected human to healthy individuals, spreading malaria in the process.  According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 207 million people were infected with malaria in 2012, leading to 627,000 deaths.

“Understanding the spatial organization of chromosomes is essential to comprehend the regulation of gene expression in any eukaryotic cell,” said Karine Le Roch, an associate professor of cell biology and neuroscience, who led the study.

Her research team also found that those genes that need to be highly expressed in the malaria parasite — for example, genes involved in translation — tend to cluster in the same area of the cell nucleus, while genes that need to be tightly repressed — for example, genes involved in virulence — are found elsewhere in the 3D structure in a “repression center.”  The 3D structure for the malaria parasite genome revealed one major repression center.

Virulence genes in the malaria parasite are a large family of genes that are responsible for the parasite’s survival inside humans.  Le Roch’s team found that these genes, all organized into one repression center in a distinct area in the nucleus, seem to drive the full genome organization of the parasite.

Study results appeared online last week in Genome Research, an international, peer-reviewed journal that features outstanding original research providing novel insights into the genome biology of all organisms.  The research paper will appear in print in the June issue of the journal.


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